Can You Still Recover Damages If You Weren’t Wearing a Helmet?
Under New Jersey law, both motorcycle operators and passengers are required to wear an approved helmet when on the road. Does that mean that you can’t seek compensation for your injuries if you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of a crash? Not necessarily. Here’s how it works.
With motorcycle accident injuries, as with personal injuries in general, almost all damage claims are based on a legal theory of negligence, which requires the injured person to show the following:
- Another person failed to act as a reasonable person;
- Their failure to act reasonably caused an accident; and
- The accident resulted in injuries and losses.
Accordingly, if you are injured in a motorcycle accident because another motorist ran a red light or illegally turned into your right of way, you can file a lawsuit to recover compensation for lost wages, unreimbursed medical expenses, loss of companionship or consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, or physical pain and suffering. However, if you contributed to the factors that caused the accident, or if you did something that contributed to the extent of your injuries, the legal doctrine of comparative negligence applies.
Under the principle of comparative negligence, the court first determines the full amount of your losses, as well as the degree to which you contributed to them (typically stated as a percentage). For example, the court may find that you suffered $100,000 in damages, but that your failure to wear a helmet caused 25% of your injuries. The court then reduces your damage award by the percentage of your liability. In our example, you would recover $75,000 after the reduction. In NewJersey, as in many states, if you are more than 50% responsible for your losses, you may not recover anything.
Contact the Law Office of Howard D. Popper
For a free initial consultation to discuss your options after a motor vehicle accident, contact our office online or 973-993-8787 to set up an appointment. We have offices in Morristown and Newton. Currently, all our client communications are by phone, text message, or videoconference.
We handle all motor vehicle accident claims on a contingent fee basis. You won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover damages for your losses.